Northwestern University: ‘Being Bipolar in a Polarized World’ opens Dittmar Gallery season


A new art exhibit addresses the timely themes of polarized political discourse and mental health.

“Being Bipolar in a Polarized World,” artwork by Chicago artist Kelly Mathews, will be on view in the Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Sept. 16 to Oct. 20. The gallery is located inside Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive on the Evanston campus.

Working primarily in encaustic painting and photography Mathews reveals the universality of personal struggle. “Dear Supreme Court” and “Dear Texas” show the artist’s reaction to political division and charged discourse. The series “Trigger Wall” depicts the forces that cause the artist to experience overwhelming emotions that blur the boundaries between the outside world and internal experience.

Diagnosed with bipolar disorder after years of destructive behavior, Mathew’s work is concerned with capturing the tensions within society that echo her own lived experience and erasing the stigma of mental illness.

“Mental illness can be tragic and heartbreaking,” Mathews said. “This exhibit is meant to celebrate those of us who see things a little different and offer you a peek into our world.”

After completing a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, Mathews spent 22 years professionally training and showing Arabian Horses. In 2014, she retired from professional riding to return full-time to art.

Mathews is a recipient of an Individual Artists Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “Being Bipolar in a Polarized World” is funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council.

An opening reception with the artist will be held Sept. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Dittmar Gallery.

Dittmar Gallery admission is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mondays through Sundays, except when a new exhibition is being mounted.

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